The Skywriter

Happy 40th Birthday to the Clean Air Act! (VIDEO)

3
Jan

Happy 40th Birthday to the Clean Air Act! (VIDEO)

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The noisemakers and party hats passed around on Dec. 31st weren't just for the celebration of the new year – it was also the birthday of the Clean Air Act. A mere 40 years ago, President Richard Nixon signed the 1970 bill into law, citing the bipartisan effort as an achievement for all parties and all Americans. December 31st couldn't have been a more symbolic day for the Clean Air Act's birthday as it was the day we looked forward at how we as a people would map our future, grow, and change for the better.

Since then, the Clean Air Act has saved lives, prevented disease, improved our air quality, and ensured economic growth as we continue the push to develop cleaner transportation. Lisa Jackson, Administrator for the EPA, broke down the numbers behind what the Clean Air Act's 40 has prevented for our fellow Americans:

  • 200,000 premature deaths in the first 20 years
  • 672,000 cases of chronic bronchitis
  • 21,000 cases of heart disease
  • 843,000 asthma attacks
  • 18 million cases of child respiratory illness

And when it comes to our air quality:

  • 1.7 million tons of toxic emissions removed since 1990.
  • Lead in our air is down by 92% since 1980

And this is only the tip of the iceberg.

Though once touted as a triumph across the nation, the Clean Air Act has been met with opposition – especially from business sectors slow to adapt to environmental regulations. While the act face adversity Jackson has never been shy about speaking to the larger issue of what an investment the Clean Air Act is for our future and how beautifully it's paid off.

The total benefits of the Clean Air Act amount to more than 40 times the costs of regulation. For every one dollar we have spent, we have received more than $40 of benefits in return, making the Clean Air Act one of the most cost-effective things the American people have done for themselves in the last half century."

Here's a video to show you some of the history behind the Clean Air Act and where it stands today.

Signing the Clean Air Act marked when Americans began to recognize that the virility of our economy, the health of our children, and a clean environment are not mutually exclusive keys to our growth, but connected and reliant on one another. The nation changed when our definition of prosperity did.

As we step into the new year, we take thanks for what this 40 year old heavy-hitter has done. We also look forward another 40 years of reminding us the fight for our future does pay off and that we must remain pushing forward.

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